Afternoon Edition: July 16, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

Sun-Times file photo

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 84 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 67 degrees. Enjoy it, because tomorrow’s high will be near 90 degrees ahead of an even hotter weekend.

Top story

Eddie Johnson got police escort home after he was found slumped over the wheel, city inspector general says

After then-police Supt. Eddie Johnson was found slumped over the wheel of his car last fall on the South Side, a police supervisor followed his intoxicated boss home as Johnson rolled through a stop sign and turned into the wrong lane, according to a new city inspector general’s report.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s report offers the most detail yet of the scandal that led to Johnson’s firing on Dec. 2. He was demoted to lieutenant and retired.

Johnson lied to the mayor when he said he had a “couple of drinks” but pulled over at 34th and Aberdeen because he felt ill, the report said. Johnson had received a kidney transplant in 2017.

Ferguson’s report, released today, said Johnson and his female driver drank large quantities of rum at a downtown restaurant on the evening of Oct. 16. He drove to police headquarters and dropped her off, and she drove away.

He was in his car when someone called 911 to report a man asleep in his running vehicle. Officers arrived at 12:33 a.m. on Oct. 17. As has been previously reported, a cop walked to his window and asked “Sir, you alright?” and “You good, you have your ID?” and Johnson showed his ID through the window. After being asked if he was OK, Johnson said he was “good,” and the officer said goodnight to him. The exchange was captured on the officer’s body camera, and the video was released by the city last month.

Johnson was not given a field sobriety test and the officer who spoke to him deactivated his body camera. At 12:38 a.m., two more police cars arrived on the scene, and one called a dispatcher requesting a supervisor, who arrived at 12:43 a.m. in an unmarked car. At 12:46 a.m., Johnson drove away, initially traveling in the opposite direction from his South Side home. During the ride, Johnson rolled through a stop sign and made a slow, wide turn into a wrong lane, the report said. 

According to the report, Johnson not only lied that he wasn’t intoxicated, but also lied when he said he referred the incident to the police internal affairs investigators, which never happened. Ferguson considered Johnson’s behavior so egregious that he not only recommended Johnson be fired and placed on the city’s do-not-hire list, he also recommended that Johnson be “found not in good standing and not issued Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry credentials.”

Ferguson’s report said the city has until July 28 to respond to his findings. He’ll release another report about whether the police department takes action against any other officers because of the Johnson incident. Johnson and his lawyer Tom Needham declined to comment.

Read the full story from Frank Main and Fran Spielman.

More news you need

  1. The woman accused of running a high-end brothel on the West Side says she doesn’t want to reveal names of her former clients to prosecutors because they “hold positions of prestige in the community, including in law enforcement and government.” The feds have charged Jessica Nesbitt for alleged crimes that revolve around her business, Kink Extraordinaires. 
  2. Chicago’s top federal prosecutor made a rare plea to a judge today hoping to persuade him against a new sentence for Gangster Disciples co-founder Larry Hoover — a move most believe could return Hoover to the state prison system where he once led his gang. The judge ended today’s hearing without making a decision.
  3. Though some public health experts expected coronavirus transmission to wane in the summer as temperatures rise, cases have actually skyrocketed in some of the hottest parts of the country. Experts say this may be, in part, because residents escape the heat by retreating indoors, where air conditioning systems could exacerbate airborne transmission.
  4. Kim Foxx’s Republican opponent blasted the state’s attorney today, citing a recent report by the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund that concluded the top Cook County prosecutor wasn’t effective in convicting criminal suspects. “She wins less cases, secures less guilty verdicts, dismisses more cases and loses more cases than her predecessor,” Patrick O’Brien said.
  5. The Museum of Science and Industry is set to reopen in August after being closed for more than four months due to the coronavirus. Admission will be free for the first two weeks, but not everything will be open to the public.
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A bright one

Vertical farm planned for former Super Target in Calumet City

A former Super Target store in Calumet City will be turned into a vertical farm supplying produce to groceries and restaurants within 100 miles, the project’s leader and local officials said.

The $40 million development is a venture of Wilder Fields, which was founded on the city’s South Side and operated on a small scale under the name Backyard Fresh Farms. The company’s founder and CEO, Jake Counne, said he expects to create 80 full-time jobs in the facility at 1717 E. West Road, near the River Oaks shopping center.


If you’re wondering what a vertical farm looks like, here’s a photo of AeroFarms’ vertical grow towers in Newark, New Jersey.

AFP via Getty Images

Blending hydroponics — growing crops in a mineral-enriched solution rather than in soil — with artificial intelligence, Counne said his company can increase yields and reduce costs and water usage compared with other forms of agriculture. The company has applied for several patents on its processes.

At capacity, the 135,000-square-foot building will produce 25 million pounds of greens annually, Counne said: “We will blow people’s minds with varieties and flavors that they have never tasted, because those greens would have never survived the journey to their plate.”

Read the full story from David Roeder.

From the press box

Kyle Hendricks will be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter later this month. Manager David Ross revealed this afternoon that the right-hander beat out Yu Darvish for the coveted spot. Hendricks is making the first Opening Day start of his big league career.

In other Cubs news, Comcast still hasn’t picked up Marquee Sports Network for the upcoming season, but the network’s general manager said he remains confident a deal will be reached before Opening Day. “I can’t speak for Comcast, but I wouldn’t want to be in the TV distribution business in Chicago with the Cubs coming back and not having that content,” Mike McCarthy told the Sun-Times.

McCarthy also said that Wrigley Field, even without fans, will feature prominently in the network’s game broadcasts. It’s possible we could get some behind-the-scenes looks at parts of the stadium that are rarely seen by the public.

Your daily question ☕

Today, my dream came true when Michelle Obama announced she’s launching a podcast. If you could choose a celebrity to host a podcast, who would it be, and what would you want them to talk about?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s the last movie you saw in theaters? Here’s what some of you said…

“‘Harley Quinn.’ I still remember going to see it with my friend out in Iowa all before this madness happened and I had to move back home. The theater was packed.” — Juliana Pelaez

“‘Pain and Glory’ at the Tivoli in Downers Grove on January 27.” — Ruthann Swanson

“I think it was ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.’ But It’s been so long I’m not really sure.” — Jordan Ganana

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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